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Compassion needn’t traumatize

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While I was born after the Korean war, it is still sobering to know I was a product of its aftermath.  More sobering still, are reminders of just how bad it was for the people of The Forgotten War.

While doing image research on Korean websites today, (I love google translate) I stumbled across this amazing footage of Korean orphans during and after the war.



The Christian missionary focus of the video is unmistakable, and I couldn’t figure out if this was a memorial to the Reverend Everett Swanson mentioned or if it was someone in Korea seriously living in the past, or WHAT it could be about.



Part of me continued with trepidation, thinking it might be yet-another-attempt at canonizing and perpetuating International Adoption.

But to my pleasant surprise, these are the posts of Compassion South Korea, a branch of Compassion International (and where the organization first began), and their focus is now, and has always been, sponsorship.  Interestingly, the sponsorship today is not for Koreans, but from Koreans for children of other countries.  And, I was correct that the footage and images are there as memorial to the founder and as a reminder of how tragedy was once in Korea’s backyard and how Koreans can return the favor.  And you know what?  I bet all the 22,000 children he helped are currently productive members of Korean society, with roots here despite their losses.

Seeing these images I am so deeply moved by what happened to the country of my birth, the land where I’m currently residing.  And I truly do see how humanitarians could have been blinded by their desires to help fast and think later.  But clearly, as the late Rev. Swindon demonstrated – we can help children without forcing them to lose their country, culture, language, and each other.

God, I’m always relieved whenever I see Christians NOT wreaking havoc and doing something beneficial.  I wish Harry Holt had taken his cues from Rev. Swindon…

Written by girl4708

September 29, 2011 at 5:45 am

Korea’s Lost Children

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Check out the BBC documentary, Korea’s Lost Children featuring:

yours truly,

Jane Jeong Trenka, (president of TRACK)

Hyun-Sook (founder of Miss Mama Mia)

Molly Holt (president of Holt Children’s Services Korea)

Two connections I failed to make in the documentary (gah!  so close…media attention will be over long before I ever even come close to mastering being fully present for it):

  1. 13 years after the war, the reason I was abandoned was BECAUSE adoption agencies had set themselves up as the only solution for difficult family situations.  And NOT just standing by at the ready, but actively canvassing for children. It was a propaganda wave and a system set up to pipeline children straight to the airport.  That’s just chilling in my book.
  2. Adoption agencies say they MUST be here or catastrophic conclusions will become realities.  When in actuality, their presence retards the implementation of adequate social programming.

One question everyone should ask themselves is:  Why are the adoption agencies against laws to improve social programming and protecting the civil rights of children? Shouldn’t it be the goal of every adoption program on the planet, especially a Christian organization, to no longer be needed? Who do they care the most about?  Hmm?

And something everyone should consider is:  When you choose to ignore questionable ethics and continue to participate out of self interest, then your own ethics are also questionable. And nearly every adoptee I’ve spoken with, even the ones that had great experiences, you can tell.  You can tell how they came to become family does not feel good to them.

So why aren’t we all working together to clean the mess up?  I’ll tell you why:

greed

Written by girl4708

August 8, 2010 at 2:35 am

Confronting a Mother’s Pain – Redux

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New (to me) horrifying discoveries about adoption in Korea.

New unwed mothers homes and name changes

ESWS opened new unwed mothers home and changed their names.

Location Before After
Pyeongtaek Esther’s Home Esther’s Home
Seoul Sharon’s Home Saengmyeong Nuri
Gyeongbook Sharon’s Home Sharon’s Home
Anyang Sharon’s Home Hanbit Nuri
Daejeon None Hatssal Nuri
Incheon None Seum Nuri
Jeonju None Gippeum Nuri

Maybe that doesn’t seem so horrible to you, but in Korea, there is no time limit between birth and relinquishment like there is in most other countries.  That means the mothers are never given the opportunity to bond with their babies and possibly experience what they might be missing by relinquishing.  This means that mothers can relinquish while the children are in utero.  So this particular one waits until after the child is born – I don’t know what is worse for the mom…

This practice used to occur in the United States and Australia, but was OUTLAWED because it essentially exploited vulnerable girls. (often at the behest of their parents)  These homes for unwed mothers were called Baby Farms, because privileged people who wanted babies to adopt were essentially cultivating them…

More unwed mothers homes by – AN ADOPTION AGENCY.  No conflict of interest there…

Even more horrifying to me is that the adoption agencies RECOGNIZE how traumatic this is, and hope to ameliorate it with ceremonies to facilitate closure.  I call that twisted.  I call that damage control in the aftermath of manipulation and exploitation.  Read below.  It’s truly horrible.  There’s nothing I can add to that, as it speaks for itself.

from ESWS’s website:

http://www.eastern.or.kr/eastern/board/detail.jsp?bt_no=32&c_no=002006002&b_no=22669&page=8

There are many kinds of farewells in this world. All partings are heart
wrenching but is there one more painful than that of a baby separated from its mother as soon as it is born? Though the baby cannot express itself, the distress it causes is quite real.

At the same time, the distress caused by the separation is also enormous for the birth mother who has relinquished all rights to the baby. There is a report that identifies undeniable effects to the birth mother after her decision to give up her baby for adoption. In her report about Birth Mother Syndrome, Paik Yun Oak writes that giving up the right to a baby is like a living death. There is a finality to a typical death but in this living death, a mother who has given up her baby must cope with the range of emotions that comes from one extreme which is the hope of one day perhaps being able to meet her child and the other extreme, her current unbearable hopelessness. Mothers report repeatedly dreaming about losing their babies, fantasizing about marrying the fathers of the babies and living happily together, denying ever having given up their babies for adoption, losing themselves in alcohol or drug addiction or promiscuous sexual behavior. There are some who report having lost all memories of the birth or adoption, having bitterness towards the person who recommended adoption, feeling extreme isolation, living with guilt and shame and with the fear that she will be punished or in extreme cases attempting suicide caused by depression. In addition, these mothers are reported to have very low self esteem in raising their children after marriage and question their parental competence.

At Esther’s house, we aim to not only provide housing and prenatal care for safe births but programs for psychological support so that birth mothers can ease their loss and increase their confidence. According to Director Lee Kwang Mi who plans and oversees these programs, “many birth mothers experience much psychological pain and because there is so little to help them assimilate back into society and their previous lives, I have keenly felt that we need a rehabilitation program. As such, at Esther’s House, Choi Seung Hee, a social welfare Professor from Pyongtek University provides a loss program, farewell program and a confidence program for birth mothers.” Academics have reported that if a birth mother does not see her child or does not go through the process of saying good-bye, her ability to overcome her loss will be much more difficult. In this environment, accepting the reality of the adoption and being allowed to say good-bye allows birth mothers to accept their situation and lead a much more enriched life.

In our magazine, we describe a “farewell” ceremony for the birth mothers at Esther’s Home.

The ceremony began with a prayer by social worker Chang Bo kyung on behalf of the mothers who have decided to say farewell so that their children could have a better future. There were four babies in the middle of the hall. Even before the prayer began, there were sounds of sadness from the mothers. A birth mother stood by the foot of her baby with her head hanging down in tears and sadness. Once the prayer ended, Esther’s House employees took square pieces of paper to make a stamp of the babies’ feet and cut locks of hair. These will be passed along to the birth mothers so that they can cherish it.

Following was a time for reading letters by the mothers to their babies. The mothers each read a letter that they have written. Mothers read and stop overwhelmed by emotions and then read again. The mothers cried in sorrow because this might the last chance for the babies to hear their mothers’ voices.

Soon thereafter, the director of Esther’s Home, Lee Kwang Mi read a poem about birth parents and adoptive parents entitled “Legacy of an adopted child”. The director then asks the mothers to promise that they will pray for their child at least once a day and the mothers respond that they will. Then she prayed for the birth mothers who have physically and psychologically toiled and for the babies who will meet new adoptive parents. Then she approached each baby to bless them so that they will meet good families and grow up to be fine people.

The official part of the ceremony ended thus and the employees left the mothers to be with their babies. The mothers held on to their babies who have no idea what is happening and murmured words of love and sorrow. Mothers cried “baby, I’m so sorry. Your mother loves you so much. I will look for you later… I am so sorry.” Babies who had been born only three to four days ago stare up at the ceiling, only to start crying when the mothers hugged them hard in their sorrow.

The babies were then taken on a van to a temporary care center in Seoul and the mothers sat there in their sorrow unable to move.

The tummies of young mothers are now back in shape but the pain was added in their hearts. We should help them heal the pains in their hearts

Um, how about not cause the trauma to begin with and help these girls keep their babies?

Eastern Social Welfare Society is a licensed, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding nurturing homes for children. Founded in 1972 by Dr. Duk Whang Kim, ESWS has placed more than 35,000 children in loving homes in Korea, USA and Australia.

This is not the 1950’s. This is still happening TODAY.

Ugh. And try this one on for size…

“CHANGE THE IMAGE OF ADOPTEES” PROJECT
ESWS 06.04.07 51

Victims, orphans, sadness, unstableness, and anger are the images that Korean media have created for adoptees who live overseas. This kind of images made Korean people feel sympathy on overseas adoptees and treat them with pity, which a lot of adoptees feel uncomfortable about.

ESWS is trying to change images of adult adoptees to a more positive way by showing they are happy, generous and mature adults who contribute themselves to this society.
———————————————————————-
PROJECT #1> PUBLISH THE BOOK BASED ON THE SURVEY OF EASTERN ADULT ADOPTEES

ESWS had a survey for adult adoptees in the US and Australia last year. We traced where they live, what they do and have achieved and what they think about adoption. The survey turned out that many adult adoptees are well-educated, mature, strong, smart and well-rounded. Thus, ESWS decided to publish a book on the survey results to help change the prejudice of Korean people on adopted people. This book will mainly focus on the present and future of Eastern adoptees, rather than on the past that most media have focused on. However, we are in need of budget to publish this book.

To publish the Korean version, we need approximately
USD 3,000 for 500 copies. If you send sponsorship money, we will publish your name in the book and will send a copy to you. Photos and comments are welcomed.

I don’t think they want my photos or comments.  I’m certainly not going to give them credit for the hard work and accomplishments I’ve achieved IN SPITE OF having to deal with racism, abuse, and loss of everything they take for granted.

The adoption agencies worry about the adoptees being seen as damaged products on the supply side or sending defective goods on the demand side, because to them it’s a business.  Adoption agencies see Korean sympathy for adoptees as a problem.  This is a good thing, only because they’re worried about their income source.  We need and deserve sympathy.  Pity, no.  But yes, give us your sympathy.  This tactic of theirs to interchange the two emotions of sympathy and pity is used to divide adoptees and weaken the opposition to their unethical practices.  And I’m sorry – whatever benevolence they think they are trying to achieve are misguided fantasies.  Unethical practices are unethical practices, no matter what their intent.

I also think it takes a really strong, thoughtful, well-rounded people to have the fortitude and commitment to see injustice and battle it for the good of all society.

What’s evident to me is the adoption agencies, as exhibited in the defensive acts quoted above, know they are causing harm, no matter how they try to justify it.  The criticism stings precisely because it is accurate.  And these efforts to ameliorate criticism just goes to show how flat their rationalizing is.

There is no war.  There is no starvation.  There is only exploiting the vulnerable.  We adoptees have a right to be angry.  Stripped of our names, birth dates, country, culture, and language – and then placed in a world where everyone must stop and decide how to process our difference.  Being angry at the adoption agencies does not mean we are imbalanced.  It just means we have hearts and brains.

These practices need to stop.

Have they no shame or human decency?

Written by girl4708

October 31, 2009 at 4:54 am

Baby Exporting Nation

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I posted this before, but this copy has English Subtitles…

Written by girl4708

July 22, 2009 at 2:58 am

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

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My Theory

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All during the search in Wonju people would tell us what happened and how it was back then, but actually none of them knew and they were all theories.  Well, here’s my theory, based upon the later realization that my age was deliberately tampered with:

Someone from Wonju added Kim Sook Ja to my document because they knew we were siblings and it would be easier and less paperwork.

Then, someone else at Holt didn’t like that because it made us harder to adopt as siblings, so they attempted to distance our relationship by changing my birth date, but that’s all they could do because the mayor’s stamp was already on the two for one document.

I don’t know why they gave us different family names.  Maybe those ARE our names.  Maybe we’re half siblings.  There are many stories where grandmas end up taking care of their daughter’s children of different fathers, or of women forced to give up their children by other men when remarrying.  Anyway, there are many scenarios that can explain two half siblings.

Holt didn’t have any theories.  They only said that nobody imagined adoptees would return asking questions…

Written by girl4708

July 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Separated by adoption?

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So yesterday, the t.v. station sent me a still from the documentary.

This is the photo of me, Suh Yung Sook, on my log book entry, next to the photo of Kim Sook Ja.  Both of us were recorded as coming from the same city, on the same day, and ATYPICALLY we were both entered on the same document.  Holt Korea says we couldn’t possibly be sisters, because we have different family names – however, the document says our names were made up.

Holt Korea produced this photo of the other girl at our meeting in Seoul, presumably to prove to me that she was not my twin, because it says on that document we are the same age.  (which I always thought had pretty low odds anyway)  But instead of discouraging me, it made me think there was an even greater possibility we could be siblings.  What do you think?

My daughter thinks there might also a resemblance between both of us and my son…

My daughter Sara, to the left, and David, to the right

According to the birthdates Holt gave us, I am six months OLDER than Kim Sook Ja, so they say we “couldn’t possibly” be sisters, even though on the earliest document from Wonju, it says we are the same age.  Upon closer inspection, my age appears to have been re-written/traced-over/changed. It is CLEAR from these photos that I “couldn’t possibly” be older than Kim Sook Ja!  What is OBVIOUS, though, is that my birth date was grossly off target (probably a full year off), which is a ludicrous degree: a degree that would only be lost on some adopting parent ordering a child sight un-seen.

Holt has repeatedly tried to explain away the Wonju document and stood behind the log book entries’ data as written, even as it becomes revealed that the data has such serious and obvious discrepencies.

Holt tried NOT to help me search for Kim Sook Ja and only acquiesed under pressure from me about going public.

Holt, who says they found her and called her, says she has not replied and is therefore uninterested in finding out whether or not we are siblings. 

Did Holt tell her about the discrepancies between the Wonju document and the log book entries? I bet they didn’t.

Did Holt pass along any information about me or that I merely wanted to know the truth? NO.  And they wouldn’t even let me send her a brief note with my friendly sentiments.

On a cold March day in 1966, two little girls began a journey which would change their lives forever.  That day was the day they were transferred to an orphanage to begin their life as orphans, to be adopted and sent away to foreign lands with foreign people.

You and I were together that day.  You and I were together the next four days and possibly the next nine months.  Were we together prior to that day?  Only meeting can rule out the remote possibility of relations undocumented.

You are the only living person I know who has anything to do with my past and I would at the very least like to contact you, however you feel comfortable.  We are sisters in solidarity, and I would be interested in hearing how you’ve fared in life.

Fondest regards,

Leanne Leith

Holt defines any self representation by me as CONTACT, even though I still don’t know her name or where she is.  They merely told her some adoptee thought she was their sister, and left it to her to decide if she wanted CONTACT (i.e., viewing the above note), even though they failed to provide her with the full story.  To me that note is an INVITATION to contact, handed off by a third party.  These semantics have done possibly irreparable damage.

Holt did an excellent job scaring her away.  This is how it is for us adoptees, being forced to have the same people who brokered our adoption be the only ones with access to our files and the only ones who can facilitate contact.  Now tell me that isn’t a CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

They say this is to protect the other adoptee.

I say it is to protect themselves from being exposed as breaking up a sibling goup.

And you know what?  After moving to Korea, I can tell you that all Asians do not look alike, and that if unrelated and the sharing of abandonment date, place, and documents were really as random as they say, one would expect the two children pictured above to look radically diffferent.

At this point, I of course don’t want to meet her if she doesn’t want to.  But I would like to prove conclusively that we are or are not related, just so I know what’s true and not true about this chapter in my life.  We can meet in a DNA testing lab – that’s all I need from her at this point.  Of course I would be interested in hearing how she fared, but just the truth is enough.  And Holt should have provided her with all the information they had, so she could have made an INFORMED decision about receiving contact from me.

Wouldn’t anybody in my circumstance want the truth?  Does the way Holt has dealt with my case resemble the actions of people who purport to CARE ABOUT FAMILIES?

How many other Korean adoptees were split up for ease of sale and they are none the wiser?  Holt says they have nothing to hide.  But even if they  don’t, I believe their actions speak louder than their words, and they are afraid that if I find Kim Sook Ja and we are sisters, then it will expose them as an organization that SEPARATES families in order to create new ones.

Written by girl4708

June 24, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

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More unsolved mysteries

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I’ve been up thinking about this number problem…

I’ve never been good at solving mysteries, and so this is keeping me awake.

notice how my age is much heavier than all the other writing on this document, as if it has been written over and changed from a “2” to a “3.”

Also, Kim Sook Ja’s name is written in different handwriting.

WHY would someone add another child to my document and then CHANGE my age to something older?  A whole year older?

The little square photo of me was taken at the same time as the photo of me and the nurse.  However, all the Koreans here and most people in general say that even if that was taken soon after I was found, there is no way I am 3 years (2 years American) Korean in that photo.  And if it was taken before I was found, then my family was one of the few rich families that could afford a camera. (Not likely.  That is a statue of Jesus in the background, btw… )

I asked Mrs. Seol how she could know Kim Sook Ja was younger than me by 6 months, and she told us that children’s ages were estimated by their physical examination and usually the number of teeth they have.

It says in my medical report documents that I had 16 teeth.  That would place me at 13 to 19 months age.

Clearly, with no Second Molar, I was probably not already two years old. So WHY would they list us as the same age?   Kim Sook Ja’s photo clearly shows she is at least a year older than me. (if not older)  A year’s difference between children at the time in development is HUGE.

It seems to me that the age discrepancy on the document was intentional.

In most cases I have heard of an orphan’s age being changed, it is changed to a younger date to make the child more desirable for adoption. So to change me to  year older at such a young stage in development is bizarre, as more adoptive parents would rather have a 14-18 month old old than a 24+ month old child.

Unless perhaps there was some child identity swapping going on? AND, it is much easier to change a “2” to a “3” than it is to change Kim Sook Ja’s age “3” to another number.

Or maybe if I was stolen, or more likely – my abandonment might have been contested?  (I’m sorry Mrs. ____ there are no 2 yr. olds here, and no sisters either.  We only have 3 yr. olds from that week)

This little document just gets weirder and weirder every time I look at it.

Written by girl4708

June 22, 2009 at 5:34 am

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

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